Sunday, June 29, 2008

Broccoli pesto

2 heads of broccoli
50g pine nuts
1 clove garlic, chopped
a handful of fresh basil leaves
a handful of fresh coriander leaves
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese
4 tbp oil
a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Follow the packet instructions to cook the pasta of your choice
Remove the tough stalk from the broccoli and break the heads into florets. Place them in a pan of salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain.
Put the broccoli in the bowl of a food processor, along with the pine nuts, garlic, basil, coriander and grated parmesan. Blend until smooth, drizzling in the olive oil, little by little. Season with a little salt and pepper if preferred.
Add the broccoli pesto to the cooked and drained pasta, while it is still hot from cooking. Stir until the pasta is well coated and serve.

There are so many great things about this recipe. It’s packed full of broccoli. It takes no time at all to make. It requires less oil then regular pesto. Best of all, it’s really tasty.

My food processor was too small to do it all in one batch, so I had to do it in two batches, then mix it together, but it still took less time then it took to make the pasta.

I used the same water for the broccoli as I did for the pasta, to save on water boiling time. I just scooped the veg out with a slotted spoon, and dumped the pasta into the slightly green water. It was fine.

I got this from Great Big Veg Challenge which started as a website Here.It’s designed to get fussy eaters to like broccoli, and I could see how it could work wonders.

This will be made again, as it got rave reviews from every family member.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


2 Tbsp veg oil
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3tsp turmeric
1inch piece of fresh root ginger, finely chopped
2.3kg (5lb) roasting chicken, cut into portions
400g basmati rice
450g salad tomatoes, roughly chopped
2tbsp tomato puree
7 cardamoms
3 cinnamon sticks
2 litres (3.5 pints) chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat to 120, or the lowest setting.
Heat the oil in a very large frying pan, add the onions, garlic, turmeric and ginger, and saute over a medium heat for 2 min, until the onion and garlic start to color. Add the chicken pieces and sauté for 4-7 minutes until they are brown all over. Add the rice, tomatoes, tomato puree, cardamoms, and cinnamon. Cook for a further 2 minutes, then pour in the stock. Make sure the stock completely covers the rice. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix well so that the cinnamon flavours infuse into the chicken. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 min. Transfer to a large oven proof dish, and cover with foil, and then the lid.
Place in the oven and cook overnight, or for a minimum of 3 hours.

This recipe is from the upcoming title New Flavours of the Jewish Table.

Right off the bat I would like to say that this was wonderful, and that you should only make half of the amount stated, maybe even less. I made a half recipe, and I had a hard time fitting it in my huge cast iron pot. I did not have any trouble eating it all, it was that tasty. The spices are all really warming flavours, and the texture is sort of heavy and sticky, but in a really good way.

The cooking method is brilliant. It cooks for 3 hours, to overnight, however long you want to leave it, and it doesn’t require any checking or prodding once you put it in the oven. I made it in the morning right after breakfast, and then we were able to go out for the day and do whatever we liked, knowing that there would be a great meal, whenever we felt like eating it. The leftovers on the following day were just as good too.

I loved this one!

Friday, June 13, 2008


250g dried chickpeas
3-4tbsp bulghar wheat
1 large onion
5 garlic cloves
5tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
5tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
3tbsp ground cumin
1tbsp ground coriander
2tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground black pepper
1 egg
3-4 tbsp gram flour
vegetable oil for deep frying

Soak the chickpeas for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Drain and rinse.
Put the chickpeas in a medium size pan and cover with about 1 litre of water. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 min, adding more water if required. Drain.
Grind the chickpeas in a food processor. Put the ground chickpeas into a bowl, and stir in the bulghar wheat.
Put the onion, garlic, parsley, fresh coriander, ground cumin, ground coriander, baking powder, salt and cayenne in the food processor and season with pepper. Process to form a spicy paste. Add this to the chick pea mixture in the bowl.
Add 100ml water and the egg to the bowl. Stir in the flour, adding a little more water if the mixture is too dry, or more flour if it is too wet. Using wet hands, shape the mixture into about 40 walnut sized patties.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer until it is hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 30 seconds. Add the falafel patties to the oil in batches and cook for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

These were so good! They were right up there with the best falafel that I have had. The outside was perfectly crispy, and the insides were full of flavor. They had a beautiful texture, not just mushy in the middle, and they were not too dry. They were also pretty easy to make, as long as you are comfortable with deep frying.

I did like the recipe said and used dried chickpeas, which I soaked overnight and then boiled, but after I drained them I weighed them. The 250g of dried had become about 600g of prepared chickpeas. Next time I make this, I am going to see if I can get the same results with tinned ones. I think 2 tins would be just about right.

When it comes to the frying, do be careful because they can fall apart easily, both when you are putting them in, and when you are turning them over. You have to be pretty gentle. It’s also a good idea to do many small batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. That’s true whenever you are deep frying, because it will cause the temperature of the oil to drop just enough to make the food taste overly greasy. It’s also important in this case because you have to be able to see each individual one so that you can turn them and remove them gently. My last batch got a bit lost in the fog of overcrowding and I wound up with a bunch of really tasty, but broken falafel-y chunks.

I served these with pitta bread, hummus, baba ganoush, olives and peppers. It was beautiful. I have been meaning to learn to make these for a while, and this recipe, from New Flavours of the Jewish Table.
did not disappoint. I will definitely make these again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Turnip pickles

500g White-mauve turnips, unpeeled, both ends trimmed
20g beetroot, peeled and cut into 3 pieces
1-2 chilies (optional)
1 ½ tbsp sea salt
150ml organic cider vinegar
extra virgin olive oil, to cover the turnips (optional)

Make cuts along the length of turnips at 5mm (1/4 in) intervals bit leave them whole. Pack the turnips, beetroot and chilies if using into a sterilized glass jar. Bring 400ml water to the boil, add the salt and dissolve completely. Cool, stir in the vinegar, and pour over the vegetables in the jar to cover completely. If desired, add a thin film of olive oil to prevent them spoiling. Seal and keep in a dark kitchen cupboard. Eat after 10-14 days.
From New Flavours of the Lebanese Table .

I used to be able to get these when I lived in Brooklyn. They sold them in the Middle Eastern grocery shops out of huge plastic buckets. They would scoop them out by the spoonful into little plastic containers, much to my excitement, and my husband’s revulsion.

When I found a recipe to reproduce them, I was thrilled, and he promised to try them one more time.

I made one big mistake while I was preparing these. I cooled the liquid a bit too much, and used a hot freshly sterilized jar. The jar was still hot enough to crack instantly when it came in contact with the very cool liquid. Oops. More of a science issue then a recipe issue. For the next jar, I waited for the glass to cool down a bit, and it all went fine.

The turnips that I was able to get hold of were far too big to be pickled whole, they would not have fit in the jars, so I cut mine into large chunks, about the size of tiny little turnips.

The photo was taken the instant that I poured the liquid over the vegetables. It was really cool, the color immediately started to bleed from the beets, and within minutes it was purple all the way through.

Other then the broken glass (not the recipes fault), this worked beautifully. I love them, and will make them over and over again. My husband even warmed to them, a little.

I thought I would enter these into a blog challenge. It’s a celebration of Middle Eastern food, for more information on it check here:Announcement.
And also here: Dhivya's blog.

These are easy to make, they are traditional, they go with anything you are eating, and they are super tasty.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

North African Pitta Bread Salad

4 pitta breads
2tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
3tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
3 large salad tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
4tbsp roughly chopped fresh mint
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 cucumber, halved, deseeded and chopped
4tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat to 200c
Cut the bread into 1 inch squares. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds with a pestle and mortar and mix with the three tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil. Place the pitta squares on a baking sheet, drizzle with the spiced oil mixture and toast in the oven for 10 min, or until crisp and light brown. Set aside.

In a large bowl combine the tomatoes, peppers, mint, spring onions, garlic, and cucumber.

In a separate bowl mix the olive oil and lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and stir in the toasted pitta squares.

Mix well and serve immediately.

Beautiful summer salad from the forthcoming title, New Flavours of the Jewish Table. This is great because it is tasty, the bread makes it more filling, and the chunkiness of it makes it a great salad for little kids too. Even my kids, who eat most things, will turn up their noses at salad, but they ate this one! Score!

I tossed the pitta squares with the oil mixture in a bowl before pouring them onto the baking sheet, because I want to get them well and evenly coated. It did the trick, they were so crispy and tasty it was hard to keep them all for the salad.

The only other thing worth mentioning, is that you shouldn’t mix in the pitta till the very last minute, or it will start going soggy.

This salad is great for a side salad, or for a light lunch, even a summer-y dinner. Good stuff!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Spring Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Peanut dipping sauce:
2 tbsp fish sauce
1-2 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
1tbsp finely chopped garlic
2tbsp lime or lemon juice
5tbsp water
1tbsp sugar
3tbsp roasted peanuts, crushed

Place all the ingredients into a food processor, and process thoroughly. Transfer to a bowl and let stand for at least 10 min (can be prepared hours in advance).
This sauce is from Ken Hom’s Simple Asian Cookery.

Spring rolls
Round rice paper wrappers
50g Bean thread (transparent) noodles
1 Carrot, peeled and grated
1 block of Tofu in long thin slices (shredded)
Handful of Basil leaves

The spring rolls that went with this dipping sauce had much more stuff in them. So much stuff in fact, that I was not able to make them. I think the wrappers that I got must have been smaller then the ones the recipe called for because I could not fit in all the fillings and still roll them up. They ripped, they popped open, they were an impossible mess. After making three of them, I had to just give up. The dipping sauce on the other hand took seconds to make, and was so good I could hardly believe it. The thought of having the sauce again gave me the push I needed to try the spring rolls again.

This time I just used the ingredients listed. The wrappers need to be soaked in warm water to soften them up (takes about 10 seconds or so), then you need to lay them on a clean kitchen towel, and blot them dry. Next take them off the towel, and put them on your cooking surface (countertop, plate, cutting board, whatever), and lay your fillings in the wrapper, fold the sides in and roll them up. Place them seem side down, and they will stick all by themselves. The wrapper package should have diagrams to help with this.

It takes a couple of tries to get the hang of it, but then once you do, it’s really easy.

These were fun, and with that dipping sauce, I will absolutely do this every time I come across those rice paper wrappers.